Three albums into his recording career as Perfume Genius, Michael Hadreas is among a rare breed of artists. Some grow out of the confines that propelled them to a wider audience in the first place, losing the key parts that made them so captivating. Others hit the same well too often, with the effect being an artist trying to capture past magic. Perfume Genius fits in neither category; his first two albums – Learning and Put Ur Back N 2 It – were filled with harrowing tracks with the intimacy of bedroom recordings, while 2014’s Too Bright opened up his sound, providing rays of resistance and defiance into the fold. But he never sounded like a man lost or trying to find his way. If anything, he felt more assured, more singular in his focus. That feeling is still there on Perfume Genius’ excellent new single “Slip Away,” a track that pushes the boundaries of a Mike Hadreas composition while retaining all of his vital personality. While contextualizing his fourth album No Shape – out May 5 via Matador – he helps explain what makes this new song work:
The things that are bothering me personally now are less clear, more confusing. I don’t think I really figured them out with these songs. There’s something freeing about how I don’t have it figured out.
That freedom permeates throughout “Slip Away,” a song about survival, identity and a refusal to allow someone else to dictate how you do both. “They’ll never break the shape we take,” Hadreas sings. By living as a member of the historically marginalized LGBTQ community, he’s granted the freedom to take whatever shape he wants to take. Or as he puts it, “if you’ll never see them coming, you’ll never have to hide.”